“All of the little, BIG details…”
The Honda CL350 was the scrambler version of the beloved CB350 twin, featuring several off-road-inspired elements such as high pipes and larger 19-inch front wheel. While it was more of a street scrambler than a proper dual-purpose machine, we can attest that these 325cc twins remain a hoot to ride both on the street and in the dirt.
One of the modern masters of vintage Honda customization is our friend James Fawcett of Missouri’s Slipstream Creations. James builds some of the cleanest, loveliest two-wheelers on the planet. Although he’s best known for his vintage Honda customs, he’s actually something of a renaissance man, having worked as an auto mechanic, body man, graphic designer, web developer, and construction worker. What’s more, his workshop actually paints, works, and customizes a variety of bikes:
“We have fallen into a bit of a niche with custom small displacement Hondas from the ‘70s, but we work on all sorts of bikes. We’ve got tank repaints in the shop for an old BMW and a Moto Guzzi now, and we’ve just started a custom build of a Suzuki VanVan dual sport bike.”
This ’72 CL350 might be our favorite build of his so far. James and the customer relied on a shared Pinterest board to compare notes and inspiration:
“The theme that stuck was clean, uncluttered, totally unique, but not in-your-face flashy. Simple elegance may be a good way to describe it. And one of the things I’m always proud of is that you don’t have to buy every top-dollar bell and whistle to produce a beautiful and functional bike. I think this bike really captures that.”
This CL is now sporting a CB360 front end with disc brake, custom shock mounts and rear subframe embedded LED lighting, aftermarket wheels, seat pan and saddle built in-house, modified stock exhaust and heat shield, and much more.
Below, we talk to James himself for the full story on this build, and he even shot the photos himself!
Honda CL Custom: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
We have fallen into a bit of a niche with custom small displacement Hondas from the ‘70s, but we work on all sorts of bikes. We’ve got tank repaints in the shop for an old BMW and a Moto Guzzi now, and we’ve just started a custom build of a Suzuki VanVan dual sport bike.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1972 Honda CL350 Scrambler.
• Why was this bike built?
This was a customer project. The customer had seen one of our CB360s online and that gave him the itch to build a bike of his own.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
There were a lot of influences on this bike, but it really evolved as the project unfolded. The customer had a general sense of what he was after when we started, and we relied on a shared Pinterest board to compare notes and inspiration. The theme that stuck was clean, uncluttered, totally unique, but not in-your-face flashy. Simple elegance may be a good way to describe it. And one of the things I’m always proud of is that you don’t have to buy every top-dollar bell and whistle to produce a beautiful and functional bike. I think this bike really captures that.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Everything. This bike was customized from top to bottom, but probably the most noteworthy customization was to the frame and tank mounts. The lines on the stock CL350 don’t flow very continuously, and not parallel to the ground. They also come with a stamped steel frame from the factory, so it really is not much to look at when you remove the bulky stock seat and side covers. We built an entirely custom rear subframe and shock mounts, with an integrated LED taillight and turn signal unit mounted flush in the seat hoop.
We also relocated the tank mounts to flatten out the belt line and give a more consistent flow from the front of the bike to the back.
We also swapped a CB360 front fork with full disc brake setup and drilled rotor.
The seat pan and seat were custom-made in house, as were the fenders and battery box. Aftermarket rims were powder-coated gold to match the tank graphics, and laced up with new spokes.
Original scrambler pipes were modified, as was the stock exhaust heat shield. The entire exhaust system was Cerakoted in satin black.
The instrumentation was replaced with a digital TrailTech unit.
The LED headlight has integrated turn signals in the unit, and we added LED indicators for neutral, high-beam, and turn signals right into the headlight bucket.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
This bike is fun – it’s a CL350. It sounds great, rides and handles as it should, and is just a blast.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
As I mentioned, my philosophy really is that well thought out design and good execution are way more important that buying all the most expensive upgrades and bells and whistles. (Although a certain amount of skill and attention to detail helps.)
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I actually do all of my photography myself too. Maybe I have a control problem? 😊